It’s the ultimate way to shop for fresh, healthy foods without actually growing them yourself: your local Farmer’s Market. Not only is it a showcase of local, seasonal foods, you can get to know the growers and the methods they use so you can be sure the food you buy really does go from “farm to table.” If you’re new to Farmer’s Market shopping, or if you’re looking for ways to best utilize your time and money when shopping, here are some tips on how to have the best shopping experience.
1. Try to locate a schedule or calendar for your favorite Farmer’s Market. Depending on where you live, you might be able to plan around the times the Market is open, or even which foods will be available during the next time the Market is open. This will give you a chance to plan ahead or be thinking about which recipes you can use with the produce you buy.
2. Bring the appropriate items with you. Unlike a grocery store, a Farmer’s Market may not be stocked with the things you need to shop or carry your purchases home. Bringing a reusable grocery bag is a great idea, and you may even want to have a cooler or freezer bag handy for cold purchases. Also, bring cash with you, as most Markets will not be able to take a check or card.
3. It’s true, the early bird does get the worm. Arriving right when the market opens means you will have the pick of the available selection. Plus, it may be a good time to chat with the growers before the crowds arrive. Once you establish a rapport with the sellers, who will in turn view you as a loyal customers, you may be able to haggle for better deals or receive direct information on what will be available next time.
4. Use your purchases right away. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re surrounded by a bounty of delicious food. However,t here’s nothing worse then reaching into your fridge a few days later and finding a slimy mess where once fresh produce one sat. If you overbuy and are worried you won’t be able to use it all, you can freeze or can your fresh fruits and vegetables for later use. Also, making a big batch of some of your favorite soups, salsas, freezable desserts, or sauces to store in the freezer not only keeps the food from spoiling, but will save you valuable cooking time down the road!
5. Branch out. Wary of new items? Not sure how to cook or eat a certain fruit or vegetable? Now’s the perfect time to overcome those fears! Make it a point to try a new item each time you visit the Farmer’s Market. Or, if you have kids, let them pick out something to try. If you’re stumped as to what an item is or how to prepare it, chat with the grower. They can usually provide you with tips, tricks, or recipes for the items they sell. Who knows, you may stumble upon a new favorite food!